March 28, 2011

Amorous females in Disney movies

While watching The Sword in the Stone for the first time in probably 20 years or longer, I was shocked to see a long sequence showing a pair of hopelessly boy-crazy squirrels chasing after Merlin and Wart in squirrel form (see here, and continued here). It's not shocking given the year it was released -- 1963, the same year that "He's So Fine" became a #1 hit. It jumped out because today a "birds and the bees" scene for children would be unthinkable -- especially the part where the little girl squirrel is giving Wart a come-hither look over her shoulder while closing him in with her luxuriantly bushy tail!

The Disney movies that I have seen, I haven't seen for awhile, so I don't remember minor scenes like this one. In other ones, have there been females this forward? I don't mean that there's merely a love story -- those squirrels are straight outta Chaucer. There was Jessica Rabbit for sure, and I vaguely recall Maid Marian being pretty hormonal, though that is a sketchy memory.

Just outside of the wild era defined by the soaring level of violence, there was Lady and the Tramp and Pocohontas, but I don't remember those females being so aggressive. There were smitten-yet-coy females within violent times, too -- Ariel, Belle, and Princess Jasmine -- but it seems like the ones who could have appeared in the Decameron only showed up during the rise of violence from 1959 to 1992 and its attendant sexual revolution.

In general, if you want to see how different things are during safe vs. dangerous times, look at children's culture. We expect the culture of adults to have some amount of sex, violence, drug use, etc., so that's not too surprising. But when it shows up even in stuff that children are taking in, that's a sure sign that the world has changed -- and similarly, when it vanishes, that the world has changed back again.


  1. For me, the poignant Disney examples are not related to sex, they're related to dark/violence and sci-fi/fantasy.

    A movie that scared me, and fascinated me at the same time, was "The Black Hole" (‘79). It had some truly dark and violent imagery (Maximilian’s, the robot, spinning blades brutally killing Anthony Perkins). It’s no surprise that it’s slated to be remade, just as another dark sci-fi Disney classic, “Tron” (‘82) has been. I was also in love with the movie “Tron” and the accompanying arcade game. A movie I didn’t even know was Disney, until I was an adult, is “Dragonslayer”. Sacrificing scantily clad virgins (one who gets nastily mauled by dragon young, no less), brutal charred and flayed deaths-by-dragon, grand magic, etc…I loved it! And finally, a VHS cartoon and 5 floppy disk RPG video game that you’ll never find, “The Black Cauldron” (‘86) – the first Disney animated film rated PG. Raising the dead, occult rituals, sacrifices, assassins…again, all a kid could want. I was lucky to have parents who didn’t censor my movies.

    When you troll through the list ( starting with “Escape to Witch Mountain”(’75), there are a good number of films that meet some aspect of the dark/violent sci-fi/fantasy, standouts not already mentioned being: “Return From Witch Mountain” (’78), “The Watcher in the Woods” (’80), “The Devil and Max Devlin” (’81), “Condorman” (’81 – notable for its marketing:, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (’83), and ending with “Flight of the Navigator” (’86). Again, no surprise that a little digging turned up recent remakes motions for Watcher, Wicked, and Flight.

    After 1986, the list is dead. “The Rocketeer” (’91) being the only possible live-action entry until Disney opens back up with “Pirates of the Caribbean (’03)” and “Narnia”(’05) series. There are a few light sci-fi cartoons scattered throughout that period, the most notable of which is “WALL-E”. Also of note, is the re-release of "Song of the South" in '86, not to be released again due to racism concerns.

  2. Bambi: Twitterpated.

    I saw "Bambi" when it was re-released in theaters in 1988. Later our family bought it on home video; I remember feeling embarrassed by this scene. It's quite explicit. This scene ends violently.


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